Images courtesy of Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra
Last year I attended the 10th Festival of Sacred Music in Rome. Having attended many music Festivals I can report that this is a first class act. I can highly recommend attendance at this Festival to those who appreciate classical and or sacred music in the sacred ancient setting of the Eternal City of Rome. It rates with the great European classical music Festivals. In addition to the wonderful performances, attending this Festival can be both a form of relaxing meditation and a pilgrimage of the mind.
Performances are of the highest standard – conductors, programming, orchestras and musicians, choirs and soloist voices, soloist instrumentalists are all of international standing.
The Festival is unique because of its connection with the Vatican and the Church of Rome. The International Sacred Music Festival takes place under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and the Italian State.
Funds from the 2012, 11th Festival of Sacred Music will support two ongoing restoration projects – the western facade of St Peter’s Basilica and the organ of the Jesuit church San Francesco Saverio (Francisco de Xavier) in Rome.
What is it like in Rome at that time of year?
The 2012 Festival of Sacred Music will be held at the end of autumn,
from 2 to 14 November 2012.
What is it like in Rome at that time of the year? Well it’s relatively quiet compared the visitor crowds of the summer months and therefore a good time to visit Rome. The weather is mild, usually not cold, so ideal for taking in the sights of Rome and the Vatican around your Festival programme by day and attending the performances held in the Basilicas of an evening – perfect!
Getting around Rome at this time of year is easy and the venues are conveniently accessed by public transport or reasonably priced taxi rides to central locations.
What is in store for the 2012 – 11th International Festival of Sacred Music?
The 2012 Festival of Sacred Music will include the following:
- Performances of the Rome Opera Orchestra, Stuttgarter Liederkranz Choir, Papal Choir “Cappella Sistina”, Johann-Rosenmüller-Ensemble (with historical instruments) and the Westminster Cathedral Choir.
- A pivotal event during the Festival is Holy Mass with the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir. The Holy Mass will be celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Comastri.
- Sacred arias of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will be sung with the accompaniment of the Wiener Philharmoniker (Chamber Orchestra).
- A Polyphony of the Roman School and Organ Works by Girolamo Frescobaldi.
Further information about performances, may be found on the Foundations website which is updated from time to time with new information and changes to the programme.
Where are the Festival performances held?
The Festival is organised by the appropriately named Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra, a foundation which has as its principal aim, the restoration of precious works of religious art housed in the Roman basilicas where the concerts take place – Papal Basilica St Peter, Papal Basilica St Mary Major, Papal Basilica St John Lateran, Papal Basilica St Paul Outside the Walls. Concerts also take place in the Basilica St Ignatius Loyola, Basilica Santa Maria in Aracoeli (on the Capitol Hill).
The Festival is widely supported and attracts large international audiences to the Basilicas of Rome. Many attendees are from Europe and the USA, UK and Canada as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Organisation and Delivery?
My experience of attending the Festival is that it is very well organised – like most Italian events, things don’t happen to New York, Sydney or London timepieces, but they do happen, if sometimes in ‘enough’ but not ‘good time’. On occasions one needs to be a little patient working on Mediterranean time – it’s all part of the experience. Administrative organisers, the event managers and team members work with you in English. On arrival – if you have bought into the gold, silver or bronze categories your seats are well signposted. Indeed in the silver category we had our individual names on our actual seats. It’s very personally organised. By the third event people are being addressed by name.
The programs are elaborate large high quality printed guides in colour and multi-lingual. The programs are in keeping with the tenor or the occasion and the high quality of this Festival – great keepsakes and sources of background and detailed information for the new attendee.
Images courtesy of Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra
Seating is arranged according to the ‘donation’ – unsurprisingly.Last year I paid for silver tickets – cost this year 700 Euro per person or 87 Euro per performance – inexpensive for what you receive. I received great seats and service at each performance. Bronze tickets would have also done the job at most of the performances.
You may not rush to ‘donate to the Circle of Supporter’ categories of Patron 50,000 Euro, Diamond 10,000 Euro or Platinum 5,000 Euro (that is per person) – however if you do you will find yourself seated in the front, second or third rows respectively – with the cardinals and archbishops of the church and accompanying photo opportunities – I noticed!
I would recommend that individuals and groups ‘donate to the Circle of Friends’ categories of Gold, Silver, Bronze or Friend – 1,000 Euro, 700 Euro, 400 Euro and 75 Euro respectively – entitling the individual participant to attend eight events during the Festival.
Gold ticket holders are seated in row six, with the Silver ticket holders in the nave behind the Gold category; Bronze ticket holders are seated in the rear rows of the central nave or in the front rows of the side naves. Friends category ticket holders are seated in the side naves. In summary, you get what you pay for as at most Festivals. I would suggest not less than Bronze tickets and go for Silver if you can stretch the budget! Each venue is quite different from the other and depending on attendances you may be able to hear but not see the performance very well if you have a Friends category ticket.
Participants in the 2012 Festival will be able to organise with the Festival office to;
- Participate in an exclusive tour of the restoration works on St Peter’s facade.
- Visit the Vatican as part of an organized small group tour with an expert English speaking guide, such an experience allows the visitor to see all venues in the Basilica of St Peter and in the Vatican Necropolis which have been restored with the Foundation’s support.
- Combine the above tours with an audience with His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Comastri, Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City, Archpriest of St Peter’s and President of the Fabric of St Peter’s.
- Participate in a general audience of Pope Benedict XVI.
Tickets & Contact Details!
Ticketing and all detailed background information for the Festival can be obtained by accessing the website of the Foundationwww.festivalmusicaeartesacra.net
You can contact the organisers of the Festival as follows – but don’t expect always that there will be an English speaker to take your call on every occasion – I prefer email, so that it goes to the English speakers in the foundation who will answer my question and email back an answer in a timely manner.
Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra
Via Paolo VI n. 29 (Piazza S.Pietro)
00193 Roma – Italia
The writer is David Hoban, Director of Monastery Stays – www.monasterystays.com – an innovative small organisation, established to provide a superior service for people wanting an authentic experience in Italy, staying in unique, good value accommodation operated by religious Orders, offering warm hospitality to all travellers.
www.monasterystays.com can book your Festival accommodation at any of 100+ guest houses across Rome and recommends ideal locations such as Casa di Santa Francesca Romana (id: LAR148) in Trastevere at €69 per person, Suore Del Preziosissimo Sangue (id: LAR230) in the Vatican at €53 per person and Domus Australia (id: LAR257) in Repubblica at €85 per person.
For priority service please advise Monastery Stays of your interest in the Festival when booking. Prices indicated are per person based on Twin share, subject to change and availability.